The Hot Blog Archive for June, 2007

RIP JS

I was around town last night without my laptop and right now, I am about to go on the road for 4 hours, but… before I disappeared again, I wanted to send a shout out to Joel Siegel, who passed away after a very long fight with cancer at the to early age of 63.
I grew up with Joel and a couple of years ago, he started reaching out via e-mail… always unexpected, always a strong point of view, always a decent man.
More later…

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Box Office Hell – June 29

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Merde That Meets The Eye

When there finally is some Transformers Autobot chatter … seems like more than an hour of waiting for it … it is cheesy as hell. But it is also what we wanted. It’s like the world’s worst Shakespeare coming out of the mouth of robots, that no matter how complex and numerous their parts, still don’t read as human-like beings. Each is a caricature … and again, great. There’s the severe leader with a strong sense of humanity. There is Mr Fix It. And there is The Negro, the comedic robot from the “hood.” (And you know what happens to the funny Black guy in all action movies, right?) And it is crazy and lame and stereotypical … and FUN! That is the fun. And we have all to little of it.
The rest…

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Die Hardest

Box Office Mojo is reporting that Fox’s number on Live Free or Die Hard for Wednesday is $8.87 million. That puts the film in position to gross between anywhere between $90 million and $150 million domestic… which is to say that all it tells us is that the film isn’t a monster… good monster or bad. Inconclusive.

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The Summer Just Got A Little Weirder

Burger King… corn dogs… ice cream… Mountain Dew…
The perfect 9-year-old’s menu for the opening night party. And when the food fits the movie, eat the food… unless it makes you sick.
(Plenty of free booze too… the adults needed it… though I really felt for the many women in see-through garments who realized about 90 minutes before the party that they were both outclassed by the clothed T&A of the film and unnerved that they dressed like sluts for a movie better suited for a pair of jeans and hair pulled back for a playdate screening after they landed – and perhaps divorced – the men their evening wear was meant to trap.)
Transformers is one of DreamWorks’ more expensive children’s animated films. But Badagascar did $193 million domestic and Cars did $244 million domestic, so Transformers can do $200 million too. The big advantage of those films is that they weren’t insufferably long with unneccesary exposition designed to seek the females and adult males who will never come… unless they have visitation next Saturday and need to score points with the kid.
And stupified congratulations to Kurtzman & Orci, who have absolutely lived up to the promise of Mission: Impossible III here. ($398m worldwide)
I’ll review the film on Friday, but the goofy degree of charming excess found in Live Free or Die Hard were not revisited here. More like another classic summer action film with a ton of CG, a classic character, and a $380 million worldwide gross… Godzilla.

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Smart Ass Ts

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The source

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Die Hard Falls Down, Goes Boom

I’m a guy who likes good junk. I’ll laugh through Eight Legged Freaks or Lake Placid and go with that flow. This film is junk. There is not a director (nor a judge nor a producer nor a P.A.) on On The Lot who could not have done as well as Len Wiseman with this budget. But I laughed. I laughed a lot. It was horrible, but not offensive (outside of the odd interest Wiseman shows in hitting women in the face really hard, no less than four times in the film). So maybe it will hurt so good for a lot of audiences, not limited to teenage boys who just want to see stuff blow up and to take a few minutes to consider feeling Mary Elizabeth Winstead up.
Maybe.
But I’ll take Transformers to block.

The rest…

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Kinda Love This One Sheet

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Jodie Foster sexy… tag line serious… Neil Jordan genius… hope.

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Clarifications

The last couple of days, I have found myself being “corrected” on a couple of things that I left myself open to via the use of my personal mental shorthand.
I am not thrilled with people who want to tell me what I think and assume that exy explanation is an “excuse.” But what can a guy do… I put myself in that position too.
The first thing was a detail… the questions around a sequel to The Chronicles of Narnia. The story was simple. Anchutz had been pretty clear that he wanted his company, with distribution by Disney, to make 2&3 together, a la The Matrix and Pirates sequels.
As things worked out, even though Andrew Adamson had publically made it clear that Prince Caspia would be the next in the franchise, it was just under three full months before Disney and Walden announced the greenlight. This is not normally how one establishes excitement for a sequel. The movie’s start did not assure sequels… its legs ultimately did, especially in international territories, many of which didn’t open day-n-date. In addition, they backed off the two-for-one plan, though it is possible that a part of that was Disney being mid-Pirates sequels, finding that expected economies were not so money saving.
That was what I was thinking about when I wrote, “barely made enough to get the second film greenlit.” And indeed, the legs and international of the film (almost $750m ww) made it a very good bet.
But also consider this, as you raise your pitchforks… $600 million worldwide for a movie that expensive is not a lock for sequels anymore. Remember, you/re talking about $300 million-plus invested in production and marketing… so thought $600 million assures profits in Home Entertainment and ancillaries, a sequel drop like Shrek The Third, much less Evan Almighty could mean a money loser. (The huge advantage Shrek has on the other two of this summer’s Big Three is that it can be made cheaper and cheaper… and is talent really going to lose a huge payday for doing voice over, so long as these films are theatrically released? Can’t wait to hear the direct-to-DVD replacements! Connelly/Cedric/Swank?)
But yes, I should have been more careful and specific.
The second case was my non-review for The Kingdom.
I find it surprising that so little detail – reviews for movies I really like tend to be a lot longer in a lot more detail – is being taken as a review. But more importantly, when it comes to embargo, I answer to the studio, not my readers. And here is what the studio wrote…
“Enclosed is a list of long-lead screenings for THE KINGDOM (Sept. 28, 2007). Would love for you to come and see the film – and you are fine to write about the film but just not review it. Is that ok with you?”
Yes.
I also read the NY Times piece on the movie, which was a lot more detailed than what I wrote. After a decade dealing with Universal, I understand what they were asking of me and why. I wrote inside those rules.
The headline was a bit of smartassity, speaking to this forever game of working inside and outside of the lines. There are other exchanges on this that I still consider private, so I will not expose them. But again, not a problem on a professional level in any way.
However, I do understand why some of you might assume I was skirting the rules in some way. I was not. But I suppose it is my responsibility to make that 100% clear, especially since I do feel free to comment on how these games are played, regardless on who is involved.
Even though I don’t want to have to explain myself to death all the time, enough people have spoken to this issue that I have to concede that I was not clear enough about my actions.

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See The Kingdom

This was the perfectly normal request from Universal Studios upon being invited to see The Kingdom three months before release. I was not alone in the theaters. Other writers will soon speak up. And there will be at least three more screenings before we get to a month before its September 28 release.
It

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Oy!

Evan Almighty is a film that is going to underperform.
Fine.
This spin on the spin that it has a lot to do with “faith based marketing” is making me NUTS!
The notion that a studio, even with a budget of $175 million, was relying on Christians to come out to make the film a giant grosser is INSANE!!!!
The Chronicles of Narnia, which was a much more natural religious fit, barely made enough to get the second film greenlit. No other film since Passion of the Christ has done much at all based on pitching to Christians – though a bunch of films have hired Christian marketing groups to push their films – and Universal knew that. It doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t take the shot at that market. But it has become like some sick little not-enough-to-write-about joke that everytime a studio includes Christians in their marketing plan, the media starts hyping it up as their PRIMARY marketing plan.
You want to know why I get crazy about coverage

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Gossip or News?

Facing the prospect of a public trial early next year, Koules and Shapiro recently settled their dispute, an attorney for Shapiro said last week. Terms of the settlement were confidential. But based on public records, child custody, alimony and child support were not issues in the case

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Just Wondering…

Am I the last person on earth to know there was what is supposed to be a major global event in 13 days?
One of the creators of Live Earth was at LAFF today with about 50 shorts made about the environment under their auspices and was talking about this being the most watched TV show in history, etc…
And I had not heard a single word. And 7-7-7 doesn’t seem that hard to promote.
Maybe it’s me…

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Ratting With Giacchino

A double dip with the great Michael Giacchino, who scored The Incredibles and Ratatouille for Brad Bird, The Family Stone for Tom Bezucha, and The Full JJ (Abrams) with Alias, Lost, Six Degrees, Mission: Impossible III, and soon-to-come, Star Trek: The Next Iteration.
MikeG is one of Hollywood’s good guys. See him work in this MCN Exclusive Disney behind the scenes on scoring The Rat. And then…

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Andy Jones Memorial

From Andy’s Brother…
We are hoping to pull things together for a memorial on Saturday, the 30th of June, in Long Beach at 1 PM. We have a pastor in the family who has a small church down there. I want to invite EVERY friend of his, I do not want to keep this a private affair, as he could not be contained either!”
As soon as the details are finalized, I will send out an update.
If you would like to send flowers, condolences or anything else to Andy’s family, you can to:
Anna or Arnold L. Jones
1471 E. Fairifield Ct.
Ontario, CA 91761
I know they will appreciate any sentiments or prayers as this has been an especially rough few days for them.

The Hot Blog

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin